LAKEWOOD, Colo. — A Denver man who is accused of driving a stolen Jeep that collided with an ambulance in a crash that injured four people including two West Metro firefighters said he was forced to drive the vehicle at gunpoint.
Armando Casillas, 20, is being held in the Jefferson County jail on suspicion of multiple crimes including vehicular assault, DUI, and aggravated motor vehicle theft.
Around 5:40 p.m. on Sunday, Lakewood Police Department said agents attempted to contact several people who were inside a stolen Jeep near West Colfax Avenue and Reed Street. According to an arrest affidavit, the daughter of the Jeep owner reported that she spotted their Jeep in that area. It had been reported stolen about two hours earlier.
When agents approached on foot, the driver, identified as Casillas, immediately left at a high rate of speed, according to police. They did not pursue the vehicle.
As Casillas fled the area, the Jeep collided with an ambulance from West Metro Fire at West 14th Avenue and Reed Street. The collision was so close that an officer who was at the scene where the Jeep had been spotted heard the crash and headed there on foot. He saw the Jeep and ambulance wrecked and reported that the two West Metro firefighters were not seen moving "during the initial moments" when he arrived at the scene.
Both were transported to the hospital as a result of the crash. Both have since been released and continue to recover, police said. One of them had a laceration on their arm, the other had a laceration above their eye.
No patients were in the ambulance.
The agent said he initially saw a female in the passenger seat of the Jeep and a man running from the crash. That man, identified as Casillas, was taken into custody a short time later, the affidavit says.
According to the affidavit, Casillas appeared to be under the influence of an "unknown" narcotic. When he spoke with the agent, Casillas, initially denied he had been driving, but later admitted he was driving. He told investigators, however, that the female passenger had forced him to drive the stolen Jeep at gunpoint.
According to the affidavit, no firearm was found in the vehicle or in the immediate area. Investigators also spoke with the female passenger, who said there was "absolutely no truth" to what Casillas said and told them to "watch the cameras." She reported that she knows Casillas as "Marco" and had asked him for a ride to the hospital due to an eye infection, the affidavit says. The investigator noted that her left eye did appear to be infected.
She said he agreed to take her and that her friend got in the back of the vehicle too.
The Jeep passengers, a man and a woman, were also taken to the hospital. According to the arrest affidavit, the male passenger suffered a broken hip and the female fractured her femur.
A wallet belonging to a person other than the vehicle owner was also found inside the vehicle.
Casillas is due in court Wednesday morning.
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